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Functional sales job resume Functional is dysfunctional?

Okay, it’s been pounded into your head over and over….never use a ‘functional’ resume unless you are fresh out of school.  We will even tell you on that recruiters dislike functional resumes.  But, are there instances where a functional resume may be the better choice?  Besides being fresh out of school?  The answer is, reluctantly, yes.  There are admittedly a couple situations where a chronological resume would only serve to highlight key facts that you may not want highlighted; it emphasizes gaps in employment, your age, and frequent job changes.  So the flip-side of this question is then: Who should use a functional resume?  Professionals who have changed jobs with frequency, are ‘of a certain age’ or have gone for periods of time without employment.  This is a perfect solution for a consultant or a contractor doing freelance work.  Here are a few tips on how to approach creating or reformatting a functional resume:

  • Make a list-  Of all your skills, qualifications, strengths and accomplishments.  Don’t edit yourself in this process- that comes later, just get everything you can think of on paper.
  • Create skill groupings- Now that you have your list, group the things you came up with into categories such as; Communication, Leadership, Project Management, Customer Relations, Process Improvement, Goal Attainment, Technical or Organizational. 
  • Clean it up- Once you have your groupings, turn your list items into bullet points under the correct category.  Do your best to use quantifiable facts, accomplishments and achievements, and results oriented points.  ‘Soft skills’ definitely have value, but you are trying to sell yourself in a format that most will tell you is not preferred, so you have to make every single word count in order to overcome that.
  • Organize- your resume should be formatted as follows;
    • Header- contains all contact information including phone and e-mail address
    • Summary statement- This section will be critical in holding the attention of a recruiter once they realize they are not looking at a chronological resume.  It should be titled ‘Summary of Experience’ if you want to emphasize what you bring, or ‘Professional Objective’ if you want to emphasize what you are looking for.  Make every word meaty and purposeful. This section should be no longer than four or five sentences.  This is your chance to sell yourself- don’t hold back.
    • Skills & Accomplishment Summary- This is where you list your categories and the bullet points you created.  No more than four categories and no more than four or five bullet points under each
    • Employment history-  List in reverse chronological order your places of employment; company name, position held, and dates.
    • Education- Don’t forget to include dates attended and degree earned or what you’re ‘working towards’.